Mast General Store – Part I

In the late 19th century when the Mast General Store had its beginnings, store owners thought of their neighbors – what are their needs, what goods can I carry that will make their lives easier, what items can I take in trade or market for my community? What other services can I provide to make my store convenient to those around me?

Of course there were numerous answers to these often-asked questions; so, store owners had to carry a little bit of a lot of items – cloth, coffee, sugar, flour, boots, Sunday-go-to-meeting shoes, cookware, ready-made cradles, elixirs, and for that final need, caskets. In return for these items, the store keeper might take a chicken or other produce that he could sell in the city or herbs and roots gathered from the woods that he could market to drug companies to make their cure-alls. He would even take a promise that a local customer would pay him for the goods when his crops came in.

As for convenience, general stores were located between five and 10 miles apart, often housed the community's post office (like the Mast Store does now), and may even have provided other needed services. For instance, the Mast Store once provided an office for Dr. Perry, who also started Watauga County's first hospital, and during the tragedy that has become known as the '40 Flood, the store served as a make-shift funeral parlor.

Service was always provided with a smile and local news and gossip were shared around the pot-bellied stove.

To be continued…